Thursday, 17 February 2011

The Funeral

Sorting out the funeral was easy, Kevin had accepted his iminent death and he talked to me about it. He also knew what the potential hotspots were, he acknowledged his catholic roots and also knew he didn't want his mother's priest to oversee it. He spoke to her about it before his death. I was grateful, i knew how much he didn't like him and i didn't want to have the discussion myself. He told her the church where he wanted his funeral, she did some homework, paved the way, so to speak, and came back to ask him if he minded that there was "some" building work going on. He didn't mind. However when i went to look round it was more than "some" building work. I could see why he chose the church, the shape of the building was lovely, very cosy, much more his type of thing than the other more formal catholic building in the area. My initial reaction was one of panic, when i looked at the rubble and builder's screens, but then it occured to me that this was a chance to make it "Kevin". Kevin's catholic roots were such a small part of his life, that i was concerned that the funeral wouldn't reflect him, as most people would know him, including myself.

Looking at the ruined altar, an idea formed, which i voiced to his brother, who isn't into any "catholic mumbo jumbo" as he calls it. Kevin was best known for his drinking, running and upholstery, not for catholicism (not sure if that is the right order!) So i decided to make is "kevin-esque". The builder's screens could be swathed with fabric, and items could be placed there that reflected who Kevin was. The priest was happy with this, and so the funeral arrangements started.

I got alot out of organising the funeral. That may sound weird, but it was really important to me, to do his memory justice. He told me he wanted to go out with a bang, and i wanted to ensure that he did. I let his mum and sister do the readings, hymns and psalms, i don't know much about catholicism, having been brought up a protestant, but his brother and i set about personalising the bidding prayers and writing up our eulogies.

The other issue was the flowers. The funeral directors offered me a catalogue of flowers, but that really wasn't Kevin. He was very particular about flowers. I asked a good friend of ours, who also worked with Kevin over the years to help me with the fabric and flowers, both being something that would be personal to him. We chose ginger flowers, his favourites, and fabric that co-ordinated. He was a man best known for his flair for design and co-ordination, catalogues weren't the way forward.

With all the arrangements in place, we waited for the day. I was really nervous the night before, what if people didn't come? What if he didn't go out with a bang? I needn't have worried, the church was standing room only and the pub where the wake was held, did very well for a Friday afternoon! I don't know how many people came, but i think somewhere in the region of 200.

I felt we did him justice. The songs at the crematorium were "Grace Kelly" by Mica - our son chose this, they both used to listen to it. Fittingly ( i felt) it played three times, while everyone came in, as there were alot of people (Kevin always used to complain about how many times Dennis insisted on playing Mica in the car!) I felt this was a little private joke. There were some prayers and eulogies, then the last track was "Don't stop me now!" by Queen. Kevin used to joke that he wanted "Another one bites the dust!", this seemed a bit too distasteful, some would have got it, others would not, but the other track was a reflection of his spirit, he had said he was having too good a time to die. Close family blew him bubbles, as Dennis and I blow him a bubble message every night, before bed.

Later that evening, some of the Bolam's ended up in Karaoke singing "Don't stop me now!" and other tracks from the seventies and eighties that Kevin would have enjoyed. Some of us tried to send up Chinese lanterns, as he had walked the great wall of China only 4 months ago, we did this badly and with many giggles but no success. Either way, i think he would have been impressed by our ineptitude and drunken singing. He did go out with a bang, and indeed, would have been gutted to miss it, as he had told me he would.


  1. It was a party Kevin would have loved to have been at and everyone would have loved for him to be at too. I've never hugged so many strangers, top spot going to hugging a policeman. He would have loved the post party gossip too. Someone asked me how did we all know Kevin? Erm, cause of Kevin... Must admit I was struck by the broad spectrum of people - tribute to Kevin to sus out and get on with all sorts.

  2. It was a great tribute to a great man. I felt his spirit there in the pub propping up the bar.. he would have been proud. Parties won't be the same without him x

  3. It was perfect and he did go out with a bang. My favourite bit...if one can say that...was the crematorium. It really felt like Kevin, his brother sharing stories, his nephew speaking and the music. It was soooo Kevin, making us all feel at made us laugh then cry!

  4. What a beautiful way to celebrate his life and bid farewell to him. Good for you for sticking to his wishes & doing something he would enjoy. I think the Queen song is genius, this may sound morbid but dad and I discussed this a few years ago and this is what I'm insisting is played at his when it happens!

    Thinking of you.